Artist: Rosa Bonheur (French, Bordeaux 1822–1899 Thomery)
Medium: Oil on canvas
Dimensions: 96 1/4 x 199 1/2 in. (244.5 x 506.7 cm)
Credit Line: Gift of Cornelius Vanderbilt, 1887
Accession Number: 87.25
This, Bonheur’s best-known painting, shows the horse market held in Paris on the tree-lined Boulevard de l’Hôpital, near the asylum of Salpêtrière, which is visible in the left background. For a year and a half Bonheur sketched there twice a week, dressing as a man to discourage attention. Bonheur was well established as an animal painter when the painting debuted at the Paris Salon of 1853, where it received wide praise. In arriving at the final scheme, the artist drew inspiration from George Stubbs, Théodore Gericault, Eugène Delacroix, and ancient Greek sculpture: she referred to The Horse Fair as her own "Parthenon frieze."